Graveyard Shift

In old Malay, draped in forest
lies heat swamped George Town
along tree lined avenues
abandoned colonial mansions
forsaken, cracked, diminished
irrelevant to today
they rot in new technological haze
yet from shattered empty windows
evening jazz drifts across warm night air
inside, lights flicker
shadows dance over damp walls
slim couples flirt and smoke
your exploratory visit
brings silence
reveals vacant rooms
missing floors instead of lively dancers
they were the old tenants
hantu partying on the graveyard shift

Old hotel, four square and white
now with modern pool and spa
and the original private beach
golden, secluded, sunlit
it’s a long walk
but a short drive
a bus plies the mountain road
past green country and
decaying tombs behind
collapsing walls
the last ride of the day
is often full
today extra guests board
quiet individuals
some tall and lanky
a woman in a green qipao
halfway back, the bus empties
although the feverish driver
can’t remember stopping
his new passengers have
truly started their graveyard shift

Copyright © 2021 Kim Whysall-Hammond

‘Graveyard shift’ was first published at The Insignia Series:

In loving memory of Nesa who told me the stories in this poem. We miss you Nesa.

4 thoughts on “Graveyard Shift

  1. i love the mysterious shifts between past and present. i also feel connections to the heat and the language, having lived in Indonesia and China. My father used to be known as “hantu” by his Indonesian geology colleagues because he loved to walk through the jungle and emerge at a mine site unannounced. And i had a qipao made in China. I was too tall for the tailor’s measuring tape. A crowd of curious onlookers watched from the street and giggled. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, thank you for your stories, they are wonderful. On New Years Eve 2017, we were in Amsterdam with many friends including Nesa. I mentioned the English tradition of Christmas/New Year ghost stories, and she told me these two. She was adamant that she had heard the ghost music as a child in George Town.

      I was struck by the fact that being near a ghost gives you a fever…..

      Liked by 2 people

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